Three cities are building a broadband speed-test app with Esri

A new partnership through the National League of Cities' "Capstone Challenge" series aims to help communities find gaps in broadband coverage.
(Getty Images)

The mapping technology firm Esri announced Monday it’s joining forces with the National League of Cities to help three communities spot gaps in their broadband service.

Leaders at Esri, which provides much of the geographic information systems software in use in city and county governments, said they’ll work with local agencies in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Butte-Silver Bow, Montana; and Purcellville, Virginia, to develop a broadband speed-test app for residents. The company said the data gathered by the app will be used to develop an “authoritative” data set on the quality of American broadband coverage. (State and local agencies have increasingly taken to collecting their own broadband data due to the inaccuracy of the data collected by the Federal Communications Commission.)

The company announced it will also offer the three localities other services, including a tool that measures gaps in coverage and identifies which populations should be prioritized and communications, along with planning and communication tools for broadband expansion efforts. The company said the communities will receive assistance until January as part of a NLC initiative called the Capstone Challenge series, which matches local governments with companies, such as Amazon and Uber, to develop various projects. Other Capstone projects focus on issues such as access to electric vehicle chargers and supporting local businesses.

Those projects deemed “most innovative and impactful” will receive an award when the challenge ends in January, according to the challenge website.

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